Undergraduate vs Graduate Abroad – How to choose?

4 minute read

Welcome to the world of study abroad, aspirants! if you are reading this blog, we know that you are interested in an overseas education because you believe that it will be a transformative experience. ( See my Blogs on “Benefits of Study Abroad” and “10 important things an Indian student to know about Study Abroad).In this Blog, I am addressing an important question many students ask us:  “Undergraduate vs Graduate Abroad – How to choose?”

I am writing this blog on the basis of my mentoring experience of many years while I taught at universities in India and abroad. I have observed the career paths of many students who made different choices. Thus, I have a comparative understanding of the advantages of an Undergraduate vs a Graduate program overseas. Let me begin with some clarifications. 

Differences in Eligibility Between Undergraduate vs Graduate Programs 

Undergraduate programs will begin straight after high school. Therefore, what will count will be your marks in school, any extra-curricular activities, experiential learning, volunteering experience or a research project you may have undertaken. Your personal statement will be crafted from these accomplishments and activities. On the other hand, for a graduate program like an MSc in Computer Science, Data Analytics, or Marketing or an MA in any of the Social Sciences or an MBA, the focus will not be on your high school achievements but on the last 3-4 years before you apply for the Master’s program. Most graduates at international universities are mature students (between 23—28 years old). Thus, they are expected to have acquired some work experience. Therefore, remember that your professional experience has to figure prominently in a graduate school application. 

There are 3 key factors to consider when choosing undergraduate vs graduate study abroad : 

  • Choice of the subject.
  • Choice of destination. 
  • Personal circumstances. 

Also Read: 10 Important Things Indian Students Should Know When Planning to Study Abroad.

Choice of Destination Country Region

Requirements and duration of study programs vary by country. An undergraduate programme in the US is typically 4 years. In the UK and EU, it would be 3 years. Similarly, to do a professional degree like medicine in the US requires a 4-year undergraduate BEFORE you can enter medical school. This requirement is not there in British universities and most of Europe. Graduate programs in the UK may be only a year long but in the US, they may take two years. 

Choice of Subject 

The duration of Graduate programs also differs by subject. For instance, if you are looking for a Graduate program after doing a degree in Computer Science, then the duration may differ depending on whether you choose to do Data Management, Data Analytics or MSc in Computer Science. Similarly, degrees related to Business Studies, Finance, Marketing or Luxury Brand Management may vary by their duration (between 1-2 years). 

Why do Choice of Subject and Destination Matter in Choosing Undergraduate vs Graduate Study Abroad? 

Your choice of subject and destination will determine how long you need to live abroad and how you need to arrange the finances for that education. Also, consider the job opportunities in that country and the post-study visa so that you can plan to recover some of the investment you will make in that degree. 

Tip: Do deep research and check the requirements in different destination countries and for specific subjects when you begin to plan to study abroad. A competent coach can be very useful in shortlisting the universities which would be the best fit for you. 

Personal Circumstances 

Depending on your financial situation, you should consider that a Graduate program will be shorter and therefore cost less. Employment after a graduate degree will also get you a better starting salary and therefore a better ROI. 

Finally, every aspirant is a different individual. Before you consider an Undergraduate degree abroad (right after high school) ask yourself if you are ready to move to a new country, away from family and friends. Have you lived independently before? Are you ready to handle your own finances and make everyday decisions in your life in a foreign country? If you are unsure, it is best to postpone the study abroad for later.

Mentor’s Advice

If you are taking education loans and if you have not lived independently before, then choose to go abroad for a graduate program. By then you will have gained more confidence and some work experience. As a mature, responsible student you will be able to enjoy the amazing new opportunities that come with an overseas education among international students.  

We will be back next Friday with another amazing blog from Dr Maina Chawla Singh. Till then, if you have any questions or suggestions, just drop us a comment and we will get back to you. 

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